Hit So Hard | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Hit So Hard

The warts-and-all backstage drama of Patty Schemel, drummer for Hole


If you were a somewhat troubled young woman with a predilection for substance abuse and still harboring scars from growing up gay in a small town, joining the non-stop early-1990s chaos that was Courtney Love's band Hole was probably an awesomely good-bad idea. For Patty Schemel, who pounded the drums, the craziness of the Pacific Northwest post-punk scene, and Hole's balls-out attitude toward sexuality, offered her a lot of freedom and unimagined professional success. But in that wildness also reigned drug abuse, depression and personal tragedies.

P. David Ebersole's documentary tracks Schemel's life and career, from her upbringing in the sticks through her glory years performing with Hole, before bottoming out as a street addict. The bulk of the narrative is provided by Schemel, through candid, sometimes raw interviews, as well as footage from the hours of video she shot (everything from boozy life on the road to goofing off with housemates Kurt Cobain, Love and their baby).

In a somewhat scattered fashion, the film fills in Schemel's life, while attempting to explore larger topics such as being gay, sexism in rock, the price of fame, and addiction and recovery. For this, Ebersole also draws on interviews with Schemel's Hole bandmates (Love is remarkably coherent and gregarious), other scene contemporaries and family members.

None of what Ebersole examines is new, and Hit So Hard doesn't travel far from the Behind the Music format. Yet, Schemel is a likable subject, funny and self-deprecating. (Plus there can never be too many docs that give voice to the awesome weirdo girls who are too easily subsumed in our culture dominated by cool guys.) Fans of Hole will definitely want to see Hit So Hard, if only for this backstage pass to the electrifying train wreck that the band once was. Mon., May 14, through Thu., May 17. Harris (Al Hoff)

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